“The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” Take your first step toward fitness and a happier, healthier life.
Has the idea of running crossed your mind, but you haven't acted on it because you don't think you have the body of a runner? Have you thought about running but quit before you started because you knew that you would be breathless at the end of your driveway? Well, put aside those fears because you can do it. John Bingham, author of the popular Runner's World column “The Penguin Chronicles,” transformed himself from an overweight couch potato who smoked into a runner who has completed eleven marathons and hundreds of road races.
Forget about the image of a perfect body in skintight clothes, and don't worry about how fast or how far you go. Bingham shows how anyone can embrace running as a life-enhancing activity—rather than as a competition you will never win. In an entertaining blend of his own success story and practical advice, Bingham provides reasonable guidelines for establishing a program of achievable goals; offers tips on clothing, running shoes, and other equipment; and explains how anyone can prepare for and run distances ranging from a few miles to marathons.
After all, in running and in life, the difference between success and failure sometimes comes down to a single step. Waddle on, friends.
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About the Author
John Bingham writes “The Penguin Chronicles,” a monthly column in Runner's World, maintains a popular Web site, and trains other “slow and steady” runners nationwide. He lives in Tennessee.
Read an Excerpt
From Chapter One: The Courage to Start
Every January it was the same story. Like so many others I looked to the New Year as the time to start my new life. I started thinking about it in July, of course, but I reasoned that it was better to wait until the New Year to start.
Every year I told myself that this was the year that I was going to change my life. Every year I was filled with hope.
Since I had so many bad habits to choose from -- smoking, drinking, overeating, lack of exercise -- I usually just picked the one I was most concerned about at the time. Some years I told myself I would stop smoking. Other years I resolved to lose weight. Once or twice I planned to get into shape.
Quitting smoking was easy. No problem. Although I had been a smoker most of my adult life, I still wasn't willing to accept that it was anything more than a bad habit. Addicted? Not me! After all, I had quit twenty or thirty times.
Losing weight was easy, too. I just stopped eating. Or at the very least I stopped eating all the foods I liked to eat and replaced them with foods I couldn't stand putting into my mouth.
I liked losing weight and I got very good at it. Unfortunately, I got even better at putting it back on. When you are carrying sixty, seventy, or eighty pounds more than your ideal weight, you've got plenty to work with. The beauty is, with that many extra pounds, almost any diet works...for a little while.
Losing weight satisfied the martyr in me. During the first few weeks of January, I would allow myself to feel a strange combination of self-pity and self-righteousness. I stood in judgment over those who didn't have the self-control that I had. Like any good martyr, I wore the wounds of self-denial as badges of courage.
I wasn't sure exactly what getting in shape meant, but I was pretty sure it had something to do with having a flat stomach, since everyone I saw who looked fit seemed to have a flat stomach. So all of my getting-in-shape programs began with doing sit-ups.
Once, in my early thirties, I actually tried to become a runner. I had an old friend who had become a marathoner and appeared to be a fairly normal person. He lost weight, looked great, and seemed more content than I had ever known him to be. I figured if he could run marathons, so could I. At the time, I had no idea that there was any other distance for a road race. If you were a runner, I thought, you ran marathons.
For a few painful months I tried to be a marathoner. I didn't read any books or magazines about running before I started. How complicated could running be? I reasoned. How much could there be to know? You just put one foot in front of the other, right?
Of course, none of my "get fit" plans lasted more than a few weeks. They never lasted until the spring thaw. In the course of my lifetime I became very accomplished at one thing though: I became very good at quitting.
Copyright © 1999 by John Bingham
Table of Contents
Part One: The Courage to Start
The Courage to Start
Getting Off on the Right Foot
Body of Evidence
Part Two: The Next Step
Becoming an Athlete
The Next Step
Finding the Balance
Part Three: The Road to Victory
The Starting Line
The Finish Line
The Time of Your Life
Part Four: Running for Your Life
Sharing the Joy
The Warrior Penguin
Failing to Fail
Running for Your Life
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I started running after 40+ years of believing that I 'couldn't run.' John Bingham's book has been a tremendous encouragement - as I finish race after race at the back of the pack, I remember that I, too, had the 'courage to start.' Highly recommended as a motivational book, even if you don't plan on running.
This one's a fluffy feel-good beginning runners' book by the famous "Penguin". Focus is on newbie attitudes and thoughts, not practical tips.
You would think a book on this topic would be very dry and boring, but this book is actually an excellent read. It is filled with great information from training to how to dress. I first borrowed it from the library and now feel it is a must have book for any runner. I know I will go back to it again and again.
This was an awesome book. It got me started on the road to becoming a runner. When I first started I could only run for 2 minutes at a time. One year later I'm entering 5K runs and having a blast! This book motivated me and got me started!
I started reading this book over a month ago. It has been one that I read in the bath or after a good workout. One that I really enjoyed reading. I found myself crying and laughing, but most of all encouraged. Not just by the words on the page but the honesty and cold lessons John shared. I have only ran for a little over a month. I ran/walked/crawled my first marathon in Dallas this past year and I completely intend to run for the rest of my life. Not for my health or because my running partners want me to but because I never want to be older than I am now. THANK YOU JOHN